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Diatomaceous earth, a powerful – and natural – insecticide

Uses of Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a completely natural product that can assist you in growing beautiful, healthy gardens. There are many uses of diatomaceous earth in the garden.Diatomaceous earth, also called diatomite or kieselguhr, is a sediment made up primarily of diatom skeletons. This type of soil has many uses and is incredibly helpful in gardening.

Description of Diatomaceous earthSince it’s basically just crushed rock, it’s very common and easy to harvest for industrial and personal use. Diatoms are mined and crushed to produce a powder resembling talc. Diatomaceous earth has numerous applications in extremely diverse fields. Here’s how to use it in your garden.

What does diatomaceous earth protect against?

What to use DE for in the gardenDiatomaceous earth has indoor and outdoor applications, in buildings, farms, gardens, and pet kennels. Some products can also be applied directly on dogs and cats. Diatomaceous earth-based products are suitable for use against bed bugs, cockroaches, crickets, fleas, ticks, spiders, and many other pests. Check out these articles that illustrate uses of diatomaceous earth :

Uses of Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth shows up in products sold in stores as pesticides against fleas or ticks in the grass.

  • It’s also used as a way to fight blood mites in chickens (and other animals).
  • As an “anti-ant powder”, it serves as a deterrent against ants.

The first pesticide products containing silicon dioxide (another scientific name for diatomaceous earth) was approved in 1960 to kill insects and mites.

Products with diatomaceous earth are most often powders. But other options include water-based pastes and pressurized liquids.

Applying Diatomaceous Earth

As with any pesticide, make sure to read the label carefully and follow the instructions.

In the garden, you can apply diatomaceous earth as a powder with a powder applicator. For instance, a simple flour sieve works great!

  • Wear a dust mask when applying diatomaceous earth. Wear the dust mask all the time until you leave the area you’re treating.
  • Keep pets and kids away from that area until the powder has settled.
  • When you use it as a powder, you should cover both top and bottom of leaves with the powder.
  • If it rains right after applying the powder, you should reapply it. In fact, it’s a good time to use the powder when it rains or morning dew falls on the leaves, as this helps the powder adhere well leaves better.

Spraying Diatomaceous Earth:

  • Wet liquid form Diatomaceous earthAnother excellent way to apply the product is in a wettable form. Mixing the powder with water avoids the problem of dust particles in the air. When the water dries off, the powder becomes active.
  • To spray diatomaceous earth, the mixing ratio is generally 1 cup of diatomaceous earth for 0.5 gallons (2 liters) of fresh non-chlorinated water. Rainwater is perfect.
  • Shake or stir well and often to mix the diatomaceous earth powder and water completely.
  • This mixture can also be used as a paint on tree and shrub trunks against insects that crawl up them.

Diatomaceous earth is an amazing product, you’ll quickly see amazing results as you care for your garden and houseplants!

How does Diatomaceous Earth work?

Why does DE workDiatomaceous earth is not toxic to humans, as long as it is carefully handled (see the warnings below). Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die: the chalk-like powder absorbs oils and fats from the insect’s exoskeleton, dehydrating it. Sharp edges within the crystals of dust are abrasive, which speeds the process up. It remains effective as for long as it is kept dry and undisturbed.

As such, it also poses a danger to beneficial insects, so use it sparingly.

Toxicity of Diatomaceous Earth:

If inhaled, diatomaceous earth can irritate nose, nasal passages, and airways. If a very large amount is inhaled, people may cough and become short of breath. On skin, it can cause irritation and dryness. Diatomaceous earth can also irritate eyes due to its abrasive nature. In fact, any dust, including silica, can irritate eyes.

Images: CC BY 2.0: J R , James St. John, CC BY-SA 2.0: Daniela; dreamstime: Helinloik, Marek Uliasz
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